In January we launched our first monthly experiment with Heap CRM. The point of our experiments is to tear into a product or service, figure out whether there is value to you as a real estate agent/broker, and give our final recommendation.
Heap CRM stood up to our test and delivered on some key points (and a few points we didn’t expect) but there is definitely room for improvement. Check out our full review of Heap CRM, including our recommendation below:
What We Liked:
First, let’s get this out of the way upfront: Heap is a very advanced CRM. Loaded with features not found in competitors like Highrise HQ, Heap gives you a way to manage your entire client database without the hassle of using multiple products. The service’s cost ($9/month per user) is also very reasonable considering what you’re buying into.
Tracking Client Follow-Up Emails
You can BCC Heap on emails to clients using FirstName_LastNameemail@example.com which will save that email in your client’s file. I prefer this format to Highrise’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of my mobile lifestyle as a REALTOR I don’t always have access to my Highrise dropbox email address (due to different computers, iPhone etc.) so Heap wins for email address retention on the go.
Event and Email Template Creation
One feature I didn’t expect to find in Heap was the event and email template creation. Right now I pay around $240/year to use Diverse Solutions’ dsAgentReach to follow up with clients using an email drip campaign. That’s in addition to the cost of their contact management and search solution.
Theoretically, dsAgentReach could be replaced by Heap’s email and event template package and save me $240/year. I say theoretically because there are some features missing from Heap that DS covers like ISP spam management and unsubscribe requests that make me think twice about going with the more minimal solution offered by Heap.
Heap’s event and email creation is super simple. Just go into Settings -> Email Templates -> Create a New Email Template. Write your email and click ‘Save’. Then go into Event creation and add those emails to your follow-up event template and you’re good to go!
Each time you create a new contact you have the option to run an event template. This template includes a pre-determined time to make calls and send automated emails to prospects from within Heap.
Other Great Features in Heap
- Google Docs Integration
- Report Tracking – See how many leads, opportunities and customers you have in your pipeline. Goal setting also available.
- Customizable Tabs – Rename your tabs to whatever you like. I didn’t see much value in this but I can see how others might.
- Mobile Website – Heap has a pretty decent mobile website design. I tried it out with my iPhone and was impressed by its ease of use.
What We Didn’t Like:
Unfortunately Heap didn’t pass our test with flying colors. One strong pain point for me was the dashboard interface. Heap’s interface feels like it was created in bits and pieces without any refinement going into making the interface cohesive afterwards.
Much of the dashboard could be improved by way of 37signals’ philosophy on building a really well done product with fewer features initially and then adding new features only after the launch package has been refined.
More Human Proofing Needed
During the first round of testing with Heap I found myself endlessly frustrated because I would send emails to the service but they wouldn’t show up. After almost throwing in the towel, I DM’d fellow ORE101er and Heap user @erionhouston to see if he had experienced similar problems. Through some troubleshooting (and Googling) I realized it was an error on my end.
The error was a simple one: I was attempting to send emails to Heap from an email address that it didn’t recognize so they weren’t added to my client files. This was a dumb mistake and error on my end but here’s the kicker: Heap didn’t tell me that I was making a mistake so I stayed frustrated and puzzled. Highrise HQ, on the other hand, sends out the email you see below informing you of your folly and how to fix it.
Is Heap CRM Worth Using For Real Estate?
Yes, with slight reservation. At $9/month per user, Heap is the biggest bargain among web-based CRMs as of this writing. Combine an affordable monthly cost with advanced features like an easy to use email/event campaign creator, calendar export using the iCalendar format and straightforward reports, Heap is a force to be reckoned with.
Heap’s biggest downfalls are in its presentation. The dashboard (aka user interface/control panel) isn’t intuitive and I spent a good amount of time in the ‘Help’ menu trying to figure out how to do things. Contrast that with 37signals’ Highrise HQ which was very easy for me to pick up with only a small learning curve.
Heap is smart — no doubt about it. But in their quest to create a highly functional CRM I think the developer needs to put some of the feature additions on the back burner to focus on making Heap a smart AND easy to use experience.
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